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James Jeffray

Mitchell Library, Glasgow Collection

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James Jeffray

A Thomas Annan photograph of a portrait of Dr James Jeffray (1759-1848). The painting was by John Graham-Gilbert.

Jeffray was the long-serving Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Glasgow, 1790-1848. He is best remembered for his role with Dr Andrew Ure of Anderson's Institution in the public dissection of the body of executed murderer Matthew Clydesdale in 1818. Ure attached a galvanic battery to stimulate the corpse's nerves. He subsequently wrote a paper on the results of his experiments, when the dead man appeared to smile and grimace and his limbs twitched. Later sensational reports that he had attempted to bring Clydesdale back from the dead appear to be fanciful.

In 1813 the windows of Jeffray's house were smashed by a mob, convinced (mistakenly) that he had been involved in the theft from Ramshorn Kirkyard of the body of Janet McAlister. The stolen corpse was subsequently discovered (with five others) in the dissecting room at the College Street Medical School.

Reference: Mitchell Library, GC 920.041435 COR

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning

anatomists, Anatomy and Physiology, Anderson's College, Anderson's Institution, Anderson's University, corpses, dissections, electric batteries, electricity, executions, galvanisation, galvanism, hangings, murderers, portraits, Professors, surgeons, University of Glasgow

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